Short stay in Mollymook Beach (NSW South Coast) early last week & now back in Canberra…

I’ve been rather slow on the blogging lately because life has been busy – in a more enjoyable way compared to earlier in the year with spinal surgeries! I have a lot more energy now so I’ve been volunteering with small reading/writing groups at the school where I ended my teaching career – earlier than expected (2010) due to 2nd spinal surgery (1st was when I was 13). The teachers are so warm and welcoming but it’s also good to wave goodbye and meet another retired friend for lunch afterwards!

The local markets are one of our favourite places to meet. In Canberra, a small city (the Capital), we have a harmonious, multicultural population so the range of produce is improving year by year. There are also excellent Middle Eastern food stores/green grocer in Mawson (near Woden Town Centre) – a suburb/small shopping complex on my 15/20 min drive back from school. I must remember to take some photos and pop them in here later.

BACK TO BALI…

Not one of my fave photos with hair frizz due to Bali’s humidity!

It was fun learning about the combination of Balinese spices and flavours. I’ve been meaning to make up a spice paste for “Chicken Braised in Spices” (P158 of Janet De Neefe’s book…”The Food of My Island Home” – Balinese name for chicken dish is Ayam betutu). It has 2 tablespoons of fresh turmeric, a spice that has many health benefits, according to my British/Indian/Aussie!! GP, including lowering the incidence of dementia (if eaten regularly of course). Later I’ll type up the recipe at the end of this post.

Today I was inspired to write more about Bali as a good friend called to ask for the Carrot and Cucumber Salad recipe we made at our last small dinner party. We all loved it so here it is again:

The Carrot and Cucumber Salad (Janet suggests adding other slaw ingredients so we did – cabbage):

Ingredients: 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded; 1 large carrot (julienne both carrot & cucumber); 2 red shallots finely sliced; 2 tablespoons white or raw sugar; sea salt; 80 ml rice vinegar.

Method:

Put the cucumber, carrot, cabbage (if you decide to use), and shallots in a bowl and add the sugar and some salt to taste. Mix with your hand, slightly bruising the ingredients to draw out more flavour. Mix in the vinegar. Taste for seasoning, making sure there is a good balance of sweet and sour. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serves 4-6

Note: we reduced the amount of dressing as we thought it was getting a little too wet for our liking.

It’s a bright and refreshing salad, perfect as an accompaniment to spicy Indonesian dishes. The salad is also beautiful the next day – starts to ferment so is good for aiding digestion & a healthy gut!

Beauty of Bali highlighted in Ubud…many more photos in my last posts showing the stunning gardens at the small hotel where we stayed a week. There were many restaurants nearby but lovely meals could also be brought to your room and eaten on your own verandah/table.

One day we visited an Art Gallery which had a little cafe/restaurant…tables overlooked this pretty tropical setting. We had a small/light Balinese lunch so we still felt like swimming in the afternoon – although I was unable to swim a lot at this stage (not long before surgeries) as it aggravated my back. That was frustrating as I find swimming a good way to generally help my back troubles + manage weight etc. Fortunately after surgeries this year I’m getting back into swimming (& eating!) again – just in time for summer in Australia😎

Talking of food…will stop for lunch while sun still in our Canberra courtyard (gorgeous early summer day). Then a walk to Manuka village and then I’ll type up that fave Spice paste recipe with turmeric before heading out to our old friends’ place for dinner tonight:)

A FAVE RECIPE: CHICKEN BRAISED IN SPICES – P158 of Janet’s book (see last posts + details above)…we buy higher welfare (RSPCA approved chickens)

Balinese Spice Paste – v similar spice pastes are used with other meats/fish and vegetables; this one works well with chicken:

5 candlenuts (Janet suggested Macadamia nuts in Oz); 2 cloves; 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds; 4 tbsp chopped galangal (if you can’t find it at your market check on Net for substitute…probably fresh ginger?); 1.5 tbsp chopped ginger; 2 tbsp fresh turmeric (we keep it frozen in fridge for up to a mth…use gloves to prevent your fingers looking like a heavy smoker😉; 2 teaspoon black peppercorns; 1 teaspoon white peppercorns; 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh is best); 2 teaspoon kencur (if available…or a substitute?? check Net); 2 teaspoons shrimp paste; 5 red shallots; 8 garlic cloves; 8 long red chillies; 3lemongrass stalks, white part only…last 4 ingredients all finely chopped.

To make spice paste, grind the candlenuts and dry spices to a powder in a mortar. Finely chop the remaining ingredients, with a cleaver if possible, to give a coarse blend rather than a smooth paste. Mix with ground spices. You could use a blender but take care not to overblend.

Chicken Prep: Rinse 1 large chicken and pat it to dry. Pour oil (100 ml vegetable oil…my dietitian would prefer Canola) into a pot large enough to hold chicken and place over a medium heat. Add spice mix and fry for 30 secs, stirring, until fragrant; throw in 5 Salem leaves (only occasionally at Asian shop…think bay leave can substitute?); 5 kaffir lime leaves; 3 lemon grass stalks (bruised)…fry for another 30 secs.

Add chicken to pot along with palm sugar (1 tablespoon grated…or brown sugar); wet tamarind (1 tablespoon); pinch salt – cover with water. Submerge chicken. Cover and bring to boil…reduce heat and cook for 30 min or until chicken just tender. Add sesame oil & taste for seasoning.

Shred chicken and serve with some of it’s stock/spices and steamed rice. The carrot & cucumber salad (above) goes well with this too or if time is limited some simple chicken satay! However, this is worth the effort if you have the time/inclination😋

The left over stock can be frozen and used for base of a soup or to flavour other dishes.